The Faithless Elected: Boehner and the House Dons
More than any other member of Congress, John Boehner has been responsible for violating critical Republican campaign promises essential to his becoming Speaker. To use a Wall Street Journal characterization of the first President Bush (July 2, 1990, A8), Boehner has “emerge[d] as the leader of the people whose … policies [his party] defeated.”
Broken promises are far worse than a mere source of unhappiness on the part of those with particular policy interests. Jude Wanniski succinctly articulated the harm caused by “promis[ing] the voters sunshine before the elections [and] delivering moonshine afterward. Democracy cannot work if politicians do not keep most of their promises ….”
“People expect politicians to lie,” James Taranto recently wrote. With a boys-will-be-boys attitude, jaded “sophisticates” wink at campaign lying. However, for those in a frustrated majority, who consider Obama-Boehner Care to be the most gargantuan and harmful fraud ever perpetrated in this country, it is long overdue to stop expecting and accepting campaign lying. It is time to understand that this pernicious practice vitiates representative government, whose essence is that voters choose who represents them.
In his opinion, on behalf of the Supreme Court, rescuing Obama-Boehner Care and the multiple lies essential to its passage, Chief Justice Roberts declared: “our Nation’s elected leaders … can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. [Therefore, it] is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” But, when election results are produced by blatant lies by unscrupulous candidates who have no intention of keeping their word, Roberts’ opinion is arguably a libel against the American people. (In legitimizing lies, Roberts was dishonest himself. See here and here.)
As is true of other decisions (e.g., doctor or product selection), information is essential to “political choices.” Obviously, decisions based on faulty information are often wrong, harmful or disastrous. That is why laws, with stiff criminal penalties, have been passed requiring truthful corporate reports to investors and accurate manufacturers’ package labels.
The most important political campaign information is a candidate’s positions, at least regarding matters of most concern. When campaigning becomes an exercise in lying about, rather than trying to justify the merits of, where candidates stand, voting becomes a pointless charade. Voters get the satisfaction of having complied with preaching to do their “civic duty” while really buying a pig in a poke.
Voters are consumers, consumers of the government they choose. Congress has enacted countless laws, with criminal penalties, against false advertising (e.g., here, here, here, here) precisely to protect consumer choices. This is one reason products contain numerous warning labels, many absurd. As with many other laws, members of Congress do not apply truth-in-labeling requirements to themselves. But given recent experience, perhaps, at campaign appearances, candidates should be required to wear warning labels listing the dangers they pose. If manufacturers are required to provide labels warning about dangers, what could be more dangerous than a member of Congress? As Mark Twain famously quoted Judge Tucker (249): “No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Add an exclamation point while Boehner is Speaker.
Numerous voters might be unaware that lies to Congress are a crime but lies by legislators to voters are not. Members of Congress seem oblivious to the irony of their own virulent campaign-lying at a time when non-members can be punished for anything including failure to provide very vaguely defined (2) “honest services.”
The Consequence of Consequences
“I won,” declared Barack Obama, adding what is now a cliché: “Elections have consequences.” Well, Boehner and his henchmen have proven that that is only partly true. There are certainly consequences when a community organizer, longtime friend of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and disciple of Saul Alinsky runs with a deceptively non-threatening vague message giving few clues as to what he really intends to do. But there are no significant consequences, when Republicans win complete congressional control by campaigning in unison on an unmistakably strong message to undo the consequences of the community organizer.
Well, these Republicans must be sent a clear message. Failing to deliver promised electoral consequences will have consequences. Broken campaign promises must, or should, result in election removal.
The Insignificance of Significant Issues.
It is a mistake to focus upon particular critical issues such as taxes, abortion, spending, illegal immigration, Obama-Boehner Care. On these issues, President Obama has been the driving force but John Boehner has been the sustaining force. In turn, what has empowered and sustained Boehner has been a malignant cancer afflicting the body politic: campaign lying. The worst lying is done by the worst promise-breakers: those who make promises on specific matters and then disingenuously vote to retain a Speaker determined to block carrying out those promises. Instead of trying to keep their promises on matters most important to the voters who elected them, these people devote themselves to the task of trying to convince the voters that they tried – despite having put in place a Speaker who would make “trying” futile.
While it would be delusional for conservatives to expect anything from Obama, they have every right to expect a Republican Speaker to be on their side. Instead, he works against them with fancy footwork. In 2010, Boehner protested that Pelosi violated House Rules to impose ObamaCare. But in 2014, in order to steamroll Cromnibus, the Boehner bunch had no trouble violating the rules they professed to worship.
To be precise, at a time of Democrat contempt for law as well as rules, Boehner pretended the rules were sacred in order to prevent exercise of power of the purse to defund Obama-Boehner Care; and he completely disregarded the rules in order to needlessly surrender the same power of the purse and thereby reject the 2014 election results before the new Congress took office. This is dishonesty of the most damaging and serious magnitude on the gravest issues of the day. (Incidentally, Rules Committee members who profess fealty to the rules above all else disingenuously disregard that one of their functions is to grant waivers of rules.)
To Boehner and his toadies, truth means little or nothing. But, if representative government, now on life support, is to be saved, truth must be made to mean everything. Just as cancers must be removed to save people, lying legislators must be defeated to save the Framers’ republican legacy.
There can be no success on any issue important to conservatives unless they first elect candidates who tell the truth about what they have done and will do. That cannot occur unless lying is elevated to the top or sole campaign issue. Dishonest campaigners must be defeated as often as it takes, by doing whatever it takes. It is not enough for conservatives to sit out elections and cease giving funds to dishonest Republicans. Conservatives must vote against these Republicans, first in primaries and, however painful, if necessary in the worst cases, by voting for Democrats in general elections. The gravest specific issues will not be addressed without prior removal of representatives who promise, but refuse, to take them on.
A liar is a liar is a liar! Republican liars are no better than Democrat liars. Although Chief Justice Roberts disavows responsibility to “protect the voters from the consequences of their political choices,” this is especially inapplicable to choices based on lies (unless Roberts does not think accurate information is necessary for voter choices). As Roberts well knows, “fraud” is legally defined as knowing misrepresentation of material facts that are relied upon to the detriment of anyone relying on such misrepresentation. It is simply untrue and – yes – a lie to say that a majority of voters ever chose the worst policies of the last five years – policies that John Boehner and representatives who elected him Speaker have ratified, while denying any responsibility.
William Buckley’s Wisdom
Ideally, it is tempting to “throw all the bums out.” But, obviously, that is very unlikely. At the outset, it would be best to concentrate on selected worst bums. We don’t give up trying to catch and punish criminals because many of them, likely a majority, get away with their crimes. But they must be on notice that they can’t always succeed. Similarly, whenever possible, lying to the voters must be punished too.
When conservatives fail to defeat RINOs in primaries, there is an alternative. By 1988, realizing that no new Democrat could do as much damage as senior RINO Senator Lowell Weiker, William F. Buckley, Jr., Connecticut's conservative icon, endorsed and helped elect Democrat Joseph Lieberman.
Now, as then, the worst RINOs are indistinguishable from the worst Democrats. In 2016, these people should be punished for their duplicity. If at all possible, they should be defeated by conservative Republicans in primaries or, if not, conservative voters must swallow the bitter pill of voting for Democrat opponents of the most dangerous Republicans. These surely include Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise
, and Pete Sessions. Their recent perfidy shows beyond question that they must be replaced. Because colleagues refuse to remove the current House Republican Dons from House leadership, they must be removed from the House altogether. They should be defeated in their home districts.
In murder cases, some argue that capital punishment should be reserved for the “worst of the worst.” Well, the worst of the worst Republicans must be subjected to political capital punishment. In 2016, if conservatives are really serious, they at least must vote against the worst. If the only way to remove current House leaders – who act like Democrats anyway – is to vote for their Democrat opponents, so be it. It is campaign lying that renders almost impossible any action supported by majority voters on particular issues. Lying is and must be the central issue, if the today’s children are to enjoy, as adults, freedom and self-government in the United States.
Because betrayed conservatives have counted on Republicans to provide a viable alternative, defeating Republican campaign liars is paramount. Political cancer cells must be removed. When they break their word, that should be the main, perhaps the only, issue in ensuing campaigns.
What if voting for Democrats causes Republicans to lose their majority in the Senate or the House? The short answer: so what! Just look at what the current crop of Republicans have done to maintain Obama-Pelosi dictatorial policies. They must be defeated in order to be replaced.
Lying has been central to this country’s decay. For example, multiple lies were essential to the infliction of the affliction of Obama Care. Republicans lied to gain control of the House to cure the affliction. They did not, instead electing John Boehner Speaker. Without Boehner, Obama Care would not have been saved; but, instead, it was converted into Obama-Boehner Care. In turn, Boehner would not be Speaker without lies.
First and foremost, campaign lying and liars must be stopped. This is an absolute prerequisite to everything else conservatives desire.
Lester Jackson, Ph.D., a former college Political Science teacher, views mainstream media suppression of the truth as essential to harmful judicial activism. His recent articles are collected here and here. firstname.lastname@example.org